Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

“It is worse still to be ignorant of your own ignorance.” – Saint Jerome

Last year I was given a daily desk calendar (you know, those calendars you forget to tear off daily and so you end up ripping out a chunk every few weeks) that featured humorous answers given by students on tests. Mixed in with the often hilarious exam answers were quotes related to education. The entry from Wednesday, June 26 has been taped to my computer monitor in my office ever since. “It is worse still to be ignorant of your own ignorance.” This is a quote is taken from Saint Jerome’s (who is also the Patron Saint of Libraries) Letter 53 is a daily reminder and warning that yes, even as a librarian, I am constantly in danger of being ignorant of my own ignorance.

I see this play out in real time often when I visit classes to instruct students in the ways of becoming more information literate individuals. Recently, I listened as a student told her classmates that this class (meaning the one I was about to teach) was “really going to be a waste of time because I already have all of my stuff together.” Some might fear for my ego here, but my real concern is that often our students aren’t aware of their own ignorance when it comes to doing research. In fact, I see it as one of my main objectives anytime I talk to students whether I’m in a classroom or at the reference desk. Students – information seekers – often don’t know what they don’t know. As reference librarians we spend a great deal effort honing our skills in the interview process so that we can combat this problem. One of the hardest things about getting someone to the information that they need is actually finding out what it is that they think they need. You’d be surprised how often their actual question ends up being totally different than the one they started out asking.

One of the first steps in becoming information literate is to recognize a gap in your knowledge – or, to know that you don’t know. One way I’ve started being intentional about acknowledging the information gap that a student might have is to have them go find one piece of background information on their topic. It is so very common for a student who is new to research to think of it writing about what they already *think* they know and then just finding sources that support their argument.

Like most of us, students approach searching for information using familiar methods. They “Google.” They use Wikipedia. They sometimes even ask their friends. It feels like it should be easy in today’s information world to find out the answers to your questions. In many ways it is, but in more ways the influx of information makes it more difficult to narrow down where you should look for the truth. I read a statement recently that proposed that “a weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in 17th century England.” (Of course, I would also agree with the criticism of this idea that really this would only take into account written information as it would be impossible to quantify conversations that went on about the weather and “how about that cricket match?”) In light of this information deluge, I’m able to take on the question about the future of libraries and librarians in the age of the internet by saying that now, possibly more than ever, having someone help you to navigate the information landscape is vital.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Isn’t that PINTERESTing?

As you may have heard, the library embarked on several new adventures this summer including launching our first ever ETBU Library Pinterest account. In the past, the library has participated in social media by attempting to connect with our users through this blog, Twitter, and Facebook. As an obsessive Pinterest user myself, I have wondered in the past what purpose the ETBU library could accomplish by having a Pinterest account, and up until this summer I had been unable to nail down exactly how we could best utilize it to reach or users in a meaningful way. That was until inspiration struck while listening to a LASIR (Liberal Arts Section Information Rounds) Lightening Talk this past June at the 2014 Association of Christian Librarians Conference held at Huntington University.

During this particular Lightning Talk (a series of very short presentations given in a single period by different speakers), a colleague, Robbie Bolton -- Library Director, Spring Arbor University, shared his library’s experiences with using Pinterest as a digital display for their ebook collections. Finally, a reason to “pin” for the library!

One thing we haven’t been able to do so far at our library is to find an effective, visual way of displaying our stupendous ebook collection. And, while we know the old adage is to “not judge a book by its cover,” we also know as librarians that the visual effect can account for a lot when it comes to peaking interest in book selection.  There are studies and research being conducted as we speak on the user experience in libraries, marketing in libraries, and the like. We know that our users are becoming increasingly more visual in their engagement and that thought always echoes in the back of my mind when I think about ways to get information to our students at ETBU. After all, there is a reason that publishers pay artists and designers to come up with great cover art! Like it or not, I know that when an information seeker comes in to browse our shelves in the library the cover of the book might be the first thing that catches their eye when they are hunting through the stacks. Looking across the room from my desk as I type this I can see a wall of reference books and the books that my eyes are consistently drawn to are in a series with a religious statue, Queen Elizabeth I, a Native American, and an astronaut on the spine. Well done, encyclopedia publisher cover artist. Well done.

At the risk of over sentimentalizing, cover art has been referred to as the “threshold” or entrance way into the book (Sonzogni, 2011). In other words, by looking at the cover art you are presented with an invitation to step in or step out. What makes spreading the word about ebooks difficult is that a blue hyperlink in the catalog just doesn’t seem to compare with a glossy image on a printed book cover. Thankfully, Robbie’s example of how the White Library was using Pinterest to market ebooks to their readers was just the inspiration (and confirmation) we needed to take the Pinterest plunge.

Pinterest is by its very nature a visual discovery tool which makes it near perfect for displaying our digital ebook collections complete with their lovely cover art. We launched our ETBU Library Pinterest account in July 2014 and now have a total of 28 boards filled with new ebooks organized (in true librarian fashion) by academic discipline. Looking for a book on leadership? Check out the Pin Boards for Leadership and also Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership. Curious to see if we have any interesting biographies? You’ll really like our Biography board. Pinterest allows us to put the exciting smorgasbord (confession: I can’t say the word smorgasbord without singing the goose’s “A fair is a vertitable smorgasbord, orgasbord…” from the 1973 animated Charlotte’s Web) of over 2 million ebooks that we have on display for the world and ETBU to see. What’s my favorite part about ebooks on Pinterest? This summer I have made some truly interesting discoveries as I roamed through the digital collection. Among my favorite cover art/titles are: Walking Sideways : The Remarkable World of Crabs, Get Well Soon! : My (un)brilliant Career As a Nurse, and Leonardo's Foot : How 10 Toes, 52 Bones, and 66 Muscles Shaped the Human World – just to name a few. These are topics that I have never really even wondered about, but after seeing their lovely cover art and title I find myself intrigued and that much more excited to know that we have such things here at Jarrett Library.

Since we have begun sharing our Pinterest pages with ETBU faculty members I have had a few tell me that they “didn’t realize we had (fill in the blank) book” or “some of those covers made me want to read those books.” Ah, I love it when a plan comes together.

So take a walk through our digital stacks – whether it be on Pinterest or by searching through our catalog (or ebrary or EBSCO Ebooks or TigerProwl). Even though I’m hoping the cover art will pull you in, we both know you only get to the good stuff when you start to turn the pages.

Have an idea of something we could start pinning? Leave us a comment below! Happy pinning!

- Elizabeth Ponder, Librarian & Manager of Instruction & Information Services

Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome Back! What's New and What's Changed in Jarrett Library

Welcome back to all our returning students, and big first time welcome to our new students, both freshmen and transfers.

Several new things are now found at Jarrett Library, so let's jump right in and tell you about it.

ID Card Reader for Front Door

A card reader for your ETBU ID card is now found at the Jarrett Library front door - at least the one to the right as you are entering the building.  This is for added security, and you will your ID to enter the library from 6:00 PM - Midnight (well, 11:50 PM) Monday - Thursday, and all day on Saturday (Noon - 4:50 PM) and Sunday 4:00 PM - 11:50 PM).

Because of this we no longer require that you show us your ID card as you enter the building, even during the day.  However, don't forget that if we do request to see your ID card you must present it to any member of the library staff who asks to see it.

If for some reason you forget your card it will be up to the staff member on duty to determine whether you can have access during these hours.  If for some reason you have your ID card but it is not opening the door you will be admitted, but you should get a new ID card as the chip has probably gone bad.  We expect these problems to be quite infrequent though, and hope that you find the new way to access the library will give you added safety and security.


The library now has a scanner!  Even better - it costs you NOTHING to use it! You can save your files by either emailing it to yourself or inserting a thumb drive and downloading it that way.  It does traditional file types - pdf, jpg, etc.  It also does a text-to-voice conversion which you can save as an mp3 file.

The scanner has an easy-to-use touchscreen, but if you need help using it the first time don't hesitate to ask for assistance at the circulation desk.

There is no direct printing from the scanner, but you can take your file and print it from any of the printers on campus - or a personal printer if you have one. 

Academic Center for Excellence (ACE)

The ACE headquarters have been moved from Meadows to the Library.  If you need some extra help with your classes, ACE is the place!  To find ACE take the first set of steps "downstairs" and it is immediately on your left where the children's literature section was located.


With the new scanner the need for a copier will be less important, but it is still around.  Instead of retrieving a copy card from the front desk simply bring your document for copying to the circulation desk and it will be copied for you.  The cost is still 5 centers per copy and will be deducted from your print pages or you can pay up front with cash.

Reference Desk

The Reference Desk used to be located across from the circulation desk near the glass wall.  However, after several years of planning we have finally moved the desk "downstairs" to the area in front of the large pillar, not far from the new ACE room.

At some point during the academic year we also hope to have a new reference desk that will better serve your needs as you seek help with your research.

You'll notice other smaller changes when you come into the library, and you will continue to see changes throughout the year as we shift parts of the collection.  There many exciting plans for the future so continue to read this blog or follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest news from Jarrett Library

 by Cynthia L. Peterson
Director of Library Services

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Jarrett Library 2014 Bucket List

As a reference and instruction librarian here at ETBU, I often find myself lost in the stacks or the archives just marveling at the resources that are available to our students. The sad thing is, many of these resources one might never know about unless they were looking for that specific item and proceeded with wisdom to ask one of your ETBU librarians where you might find it. We have incredible information that many people aren’t aware of – this is the librarian’s lament. Apparently, I’m not alone in this lament as a fellow librarian over at UGL in Illinois touched on the same idea in the post “Listful Thinking” which includes a lovely bucket list for their soon to graduate students. It is a beautiful attempt to help those future alums soak in the value of their college library just one more time before they head off to new adventures (and new libraries).

To our soon to graduate 2014 seniors: 

We, the librarians and staff of Mamye Jarrett Library eagerly awaited your arrival your first semester on campus. We thought about what types of resources you might need and how we might get those to you. We made plans to greet you in your first days on campus and tried to make sure that you were able to register for your very first account with us. Throughout your time with us we looked forward to seeing your faces – even during finals at 3 a.m. – and hoped that when you called on us we would be able to help you find that perfect resource for your research. In a sense, we’ve watched you grow up as researchers – from helping you figure out an your first Turabian footnote to helping you navigate the burgeoning seas of information – we’ve been there when you’ve let us be there and for that, I must say, this librarian is grateful. Now as you get ready to walk down across that stage on May 3rd, know that the librarians and staff of Jarrett Library will be cheering you on in our best dress (and for some it should be noted, this includes an eye-popping shade of lemon yellow) as you head off to face a new world of information -- hopefully with the information literacy tools we’ve tried to impart to you along the way. 

But before you go, here are a few things we think you should try and experience before you kick the proverbial academic bucket –

  • Flex your government knowledge as you attempt to name each American President featured in our Mosaic Wood Carving Presidential Portraits collection in the library’s Heritage Room.
  • Take a trip into the nostalgia of your childhood while visiting our Children’s Literature stacks. Find your favorite book from days gone by and take a moment to let your pending adulthood soak in.
  • Spend some time flipping through the history of ETBU by looking at our extensive collection of ETBU annuals housed within our University Archives.
  • Check out a key for a study room from the circulation desk for a last ditch effort to study quietly.
  • Take some time to click through our Digital Archives featuring the inauguration of Dr. Samuel “Dub” Oliver.
  • Have you managed to grasp the Library of Congress Classification System while you were here? If so, venture out and try to find a book on your own in the stacks. (And if you haven’t mastered it just yet, we’re still here to help – no judgement)
  • Tackle that last group project with your pals in the library’s Heritage Room – where it’s definitely okay to talk.
  • Host an impromptu film festival using the feature films collection found in your library – Star Wars anyone?
  • Use the microfilm machine to find out what was happening in Marshall, Texas the day that you were born.
  • Slow down the aging process by perusing what all the kids are reading these days in our Young Adult Collection.
  • Read all of the plaques nestled on the walls throughout the library – you might even learn something.
  • Get a few friends together and snap a selfie with our Seagulls Statue.
  • Follow the library on Facebook and Twitter so that we can still be a part of your life.
  • Ask a librarian to help you with your sources or research – for old time’s sake.
  • Take a well deserved snooze on one of our oh-so-comfy couches.
And finally, stop in and tell us goodbye before the big day because we are certainly going to miss you. We wish you the best! 

(one last tip… track down your local public library the minute you get where you are going – they’d like the help you too!)

-  by Elizabeth Ponder, Librarian & Manager of Instruction & Information Services

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On National Library Week & Changing Lives

It would be difficult not to be inspired by the great author and lover of libraries Neil Gaiman’s 2013 lecture for the UK Reading Agency titled, “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading, and Daydreaming.” Anyone that has read anything in support of libraries could have stumbled upon Mr. Gaiman sharing about the value of libraries and the difference they have made in his life – and this librarian would say, “Rightly so.”

It should come as no surprise that Gaiman has been quoted as saying about National Library Week, “You should be especially nice to a librarian today, or tomorrow. Sometime this week, anyway. Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding.” Of course, I would add being nice to library staff members, student workers, government officials that support library funding, and friends of the library to that list. 

I don’t tell you this to suggest that the reference desk (or the circulation desk or the technical services desk or the director’s desk) should be laden with chocolates and tea this year during the week of April 13-19. (Now, if you have an extra reliable source of funding lying around, by all means, laden us.) 

If it happens, it happens. 

That being said, National Library Week for me is less about my role as a librarian and more about the role of the library as a resource here on the campus of ETBU and in the community in which I live and work. 

What I would rather do is draw your attention to is this year’s theme that libraries do intend change lives. 

The American Library Association says this about the impact of libraries: 

“Libraries today are more than repositories for books and other resources. Often the heart of their communities, campuses or schools, libraries are deeply committed to the places where their patrons live, work and study.  Libraries are trusted places where everyone in the community can gather to reconnect and reengage with each other to enrich and shape the community and address local issues.”

In my brief years as a teacher, then public librarian, now academic librarian, I have learned that people have different experiences with libraries. For some the library becomes a sort of sanctuary – a safe, quiet place where they can retreat; for others, the library is a place to gather with other members of your community – an active place where important discussions take place; for me it has always been a place where  I can explore the ideas of others – believe it or not, I still have the very first public library card that was ever issued to me personally complete with my grade school attempt at a cursive signature! No matter what your experience with libraries, it is likely that whether you know it or not, a library has in some way changed your life.

This year for NLW we are asking our ETBU family to once again tell us about five books -- specifically, five books that have changed your life. Books have the ability to open up new ways of thinking for us to help us learn, develop empathy, and engage with others. That being said, I hope that this year during National Library Week you will also take a moment to remember that libraries change lives in ways other than just the books we collect. Libraries have the ability to change lives through free access to information, programs, education, technology, and much more. Won’t you show your Jarrett love, dear patrons, and join us in celebrating National Library Week 2014, April 13-19?

And now I ask you… How have libraries changed your life?

- by Elizabeth Ponder, Librarian & Manager of Instruction & Information Services